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Latest Walter Football mock has Buccaneers beefing up the o-line

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Might Tampa Bay select an in-state player in the first round for the third time in five years? Walter Football thinks so.

NCAA Football: Florida at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Draft season is in full swing these days, with new mocks being released or updated nearly every day. It’s always an exciting time, though it tends to drag once the draft finally gets closer. The fun part, of course, is that it seems like every mock has a different selection in the early stages of the offseason.

That brings us to Walter Football’s mock, which was updated Thursday. With the No. 5 overall pick, that mock has the Buccaneers selecting offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor out of the University of Florida. Here’s the explanation:

If the Buccaneers did the smart thing and selected Derwin James after trading down last year, they could take Ed Oliver here as an upgrade over Vita Vea. Instead, they have to take a lesser player, although I’m sure Tampa fans won’t object to finding a sorely needed upgrade at left tackle. Jawaan Taylor has some great feet for his size (6-5, 340) and could emerge as the first tackle off the board.

Disregarding the dig at Vita Vea, this pick seems realistic for Tampa Bay, as it would address a big-time area of need. Some mocks have the Bucs going with Alabama tackle Jonah Williams at No. 5, but Taylor is someone to keep an eye on. His blend of size and mobility is surely intriguing for a team that has struggled to field a competent offensive line for a number of years now.

Exactly where the former Gator would play seems to be debatable. Walter Football mentions him as an upgrade at left tackle, which would mean the end of Donovan Smith’s time in Tampa (unless he moves to the right side, though that seems unlikely). Luke Easterling of The Draft Wire says Taylor could be an instant starter at right tackle, but could transition to left tackle if he needs to.

The guys over at The Draft Network seem split on the issue. Joe Marino thinks Taylor is “extremely comfortable” on the right side and wouldn’t “mess with it,” though he goes on to say the big man could play left tackle and “would probably be fine at guard.” Kyle Crabbs notes Taylor’s positional diversity, but Jon Ledyard says he might project better as a guard because he “doesn’t have the explosiveness or range to stop pure speed.”

To me, the fact that there are differing opinions on where Taylor would fill in just serves as a testament to his versatility. The Bucs could use a guy like that, especially considering the only guys that appear to be locked into their spots on the line right now are Ryan Jensen (center) and Ali Marpet (left guard). Though I haven’t extensively looked at Taylor, I’d say he could be a strong option for Tampa Bay.

On a different note, I’d say the possibility of trading down is something that can definitely be talked about, especially with how this mock played out. Considering the first four teams picked non-quarterbacks, the Bucs might be sitting in a spot to move down and grab some extra picks if a quarterback-needy team wants to jump up in front of the Giants (who have the No. 6 pick). General manager Jason Licht has shown a tendency to make that exact move, so it’s definitely something to look out for.

I know it’s only the first weekend in February, but what are you feeling right now, Bucs fans? Are you taking Jonah Williams or Jawaan Taylor? Someone else? Trading down? Sound off and let us know which way you’d go if you were Licht.